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Featured FAQ: Why is a Viewing Important

January 10, 2016

One of the most important purposes of a funeral is to provide the opportunity to say a final farewell to a loved one in a safe and supportive setting.  Having the chance to view the deceased before burial or cremation provides that opportunity to say goodbye and can play an important role in helping loved ones accept the reality of loss in order to transform grief into healing.

25906735_sIt can often be difficult to grasp the reality of a deep loss, and a viewing provides the opportunity for closure and healing in a particularly concrete way. Whether it is a private viewing for immediate family only or a public viewing open to all family and friends, the chance to actually say goodbye to a loved one and to see that death has in fact occurred helps mourners acknowledge the reality of loss and come to a place of acceptance to facilitate their journey toward healing.

A viewing is especially important to the grieving process if the loved one faced difficulties at the end of life, such as battling a prolonged illness or enduring through pain. Seeing the body in a state of peacefulness brings comfort to family and friends with the knowledge that their loved one now rests in peace. It is also important in the instance of a sudden death or accident in order to give loved ones the opportunity to say goodbye.

When is a viewing appropriate?

The decision as to whether a viewing is suitable is a highly personal one, but your funeral director is always available for guidance.  If you are unsure about the emotional affect of a viewing or if you are otherwise uncomfortable about it for any reason, don’t hesitate to ask your funeral director whether a viewing would be possible or helpful in the given cirucumstances.  There may be ways to accommodate the need for personal goodbyes and still achieve an outcome that will be healing, personal, and helpful for those in attendance.

There are certainly circumstances when a public viewing with an open casket is not suitable, but it may still be appropriate for immediate family, especially if they have witnessed their loved one suffer at the end of life. If the loved one had been ill for a long time or was severely damaged in an accident, family may opt for a closed casket at the funeral. However, an open casket viewing for immediate family only before the funeral services provides the opportunity for family members to say goodbye; see their loved one bathed, dressed and at peace; and make it easier to accept that the death has actually occurred. A lovely option would be to place a photograph next to the closed casket to provide a memory of the way in which the loved one would want to be remembered.

There is no right or wrong way to conduct a funeral. A funeral that offers a true opportunity to honor, remember and bid farewell helps us heal. Decisions about a viewing can be discussed between the family and the funeral director to make the best choice for each individual.

If you have any additional questions about the importance of a viewing or would like to make an appointment to meet with one of our experienced funeral directors, please contact us at any of our locations or call our main office at 1-800-Keohane (800-536-4263).

Photo Credit:  kzenon/123RF

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